tv Book TV After Words CSPAN September 12, 2009 12:00pm-1:00pm EDT
down, but for children out to the suburbs or the surrounding area schools. my mother struggled hard against that because she is trying to convince arents that your local school is your power base, e place whe you can demand goods and services be delivered. i am a great grandmother and i have a eight and nine-yearld in brooklyn in las vegas, in the publicchool system, and icy that they are being served well to a degree and the thing i wanted to ask, if jonathan is familiar with a program that involves community and parents like the algebra project which was run by bob moses. i was a volunteer in the early 90s in district 13 in a brooyn and saw a two classes of
hundreds of kids graduated because --m the algebra project. i didt really have any children in school but i always sisted that people have a vested interest in what goes on in their local school where the taxes go regardless of what economic level they are at. -- we're getting a little close on time. u want to respond to her? >> guest: well, the algebra project is aming. bob moses is, of course, a legendary figure in amican history. i'll just -- you know, say bluntlthat every school superintendent i've known, and i must have known well, pretty well that 35, 40 by now -- i knos them when they're hired and "the washington post" or "new york times" says the new superintendent has new wonderful ideas on how to turn it all around.
they alway have seven. there's a 7-point plan to turn it all around. i don't know. they love the word "seven they love the word seven. and he gets his honeymoon for a few years. everything is upbeat and scores are up andhen he's fired 'cause it didn't work 'cause he didn't pull off this miracle of making triumphantly successful segregated and unequal schools. >> then he ends up a few years later, he was hiredn seatt, saint louis. i meet him there. for her there. these are decent people. i mean, mostly superintendents i have known, it is a horrible job. i don't know who would want to be the school superintendent in a city like new york or washington. i always think that that job was created so that one person to
blame for our nations since. they get psycholocically broken down. but look, they all have a plan for making separate and unequal schools, terrific, successful comedy happy and high-scoring. it's never worked yet in years since plessy versus ferguson. that was 1896. you can always fin exceptions. every city has a handful of exceptions that issued to reporters and save for oprah winfrey, you know. but basically those of dropout numbers speak for themselves. they tell us that the warren court s right. >> host: last call is marked. >> caller: my name is mark, how are you doing?
>> guest: hi, mark. >: caller: i have my father with the. say hello. and anyway i heard your parents were pretty hold onto old there. i had a bunch of things to say, and my mother is going through the giant and i am watchingy father grow old. >> host: i'm sorry. we'll have a couple of minutes so make it real quick. >> caller: and i would like to speak in depth for about 24 hours every day for the next 20 years, butnyway, what'your motivation behind what you do? >> guest: you can reach me, by the way, can i tell him that? it's just my name e-mail.com. >> host: your full name, jonathan golson, one word, at gmail.com. >> guest: that's right. what keeps me going i think the point of this question, is the joy i get in being with kids.
and even in the most discouraging circumstances, even the most dismal setting, even when i know the odds defy that aren't good, and i know that dropout numbers still, i get a sense of joy and hope of being with children. especially with the little ones. if i have the strength and health, i have this fantasy of going back in teaching little once again. i would le to teach first grade, or second grade. and i always feel happy when i am with the children. and they surprise me. eternally by the things theyay and do the things they think are funny. and the way they make you happy. a little boy thinks i'm sad, comes up to me suddenly, and he
sticks right on my foret, a frog. not a real frog, but a sticky frog. the detail of a frog. they do things like that. >> host: do they like to tennis shoes? >> guest: won the girl started giggling uncontrollably when i was sitting in her at school. i was sitting down in the reading room, and finally she whisped to me, as though this was the most amazing thing. she said, guess what? my brother has -- my little brother has exactly the same eakers as you do. and then she said, except his are red. see, i like the things children find interesting. and like the fact that they are so honest. little kids are very hest.
when mr. rogers came up, one little boy just ran up and hug him. looked him right in the eye and said welme to my neighborhood, mrrogers. you know? and other kids, they don't like you, they make that obvious. and ey tell you. they will tell the teacher, if it's a woman teacher, they will tell her you look awful. what did you do to your hair? i think -- i have spent a lot of my life at universities, and quite a bit up in capitol hill heren washington testifying in front of house and senate committees. whenever i do something on capitol hill, i ways get depressed. i alwa get the sense nothing is going to change. so, you know, if it's not too late in the day, if it's still
morning i can get the shuttle to new york. from laguardia to the bro. only about 10 minutes. very close. get back to a school before school ends. just be with the children. and then i feel happy again. >> host:e are out of time. thank you very much for three hours or. >> guest: thank you. it was wonderful.
>> in his book, "the looming tower: al-qaeda anthe road to 9/11", lawrence wright provides a detailed account of the events leading to the september 2001 attack on the united states. he spentive years researching the book and conducted hundreds of interviews. to create on of the most comprehensive pieces of reporting on the event today. mr. wright discusses the book with james zogby, founder and president of the arab-american institute. mr. zogby serves as a guest interviewer an does not otherwise affiliated with c-span. >> hi, i am jim zogby and i'm with lawrence wright.com out with a new book, "the looming tower." thanks for being here. spirit it is a pleasure. thanks for writing the book.
it took you five years, and must've been an enormously driven experience to go through it all. talk to me a little about the act of creation, like what i get into it and what sustained you as you were working on it? what was the store you were trying to tell? >> guest: to begin with, i have lived in the arab world. i had taught at the american university in cairo long ago, 1969 to 1971 so i had somfamiliarity wi that part of the world. and it hurt me to think that that culture that was very fond of had a tactical to that i was a part of. and also another contributor factor i guess is that i h written a movie called the siege that in some ways we figured some of the events that actuall occurred on 9/11. not just the terrorism in new york but the subsequent rounding
up of arab-americans an torturing suspects, and stuff like that, all of which italy came to pass. but on 9/11, i actually was getting out of journalism. i was writing movieand having a wonderful time. i was planning to direct movies, and then suddenly there was a fire bell and i just had to answer the call. it was a time in my life i felt that you know a historic event had happened. i had a duty as a reporter and as an american to understand it. and i didn't know exactly what it was going to take, but i just knew that history will be looking over our shoulder for centuries trying to understand this. and i'm the man on the ground now. i decide i was going to go out anget as much as i cld of, doctors may people as i define
and who would talk to me, to try to understand, to try to put it in a comprehensive understandable manner what actually occurred and where this came from trying. >> host: were youurprised? guest: if you go back to 9/11, you kw, our understanding of bin laden, that he was this physical giant, that he had kidney disease, that he was a playboy in his youth, that he was a billionaire. you know, that is where i started. and almost all americans did. i didn't really have any underrtand who he was at all. certainly i hano idea of what he really wanted. >>ost: and what did you find out? >> guest: well, just on the subject of bin laden, i talked to a lot of his fends and relatives. and i would always ask them how tall is he? and at first i thought it was
going to be noncontroversial, but you know, some of his closest friends would say he is about my height. which in those cases, six-foot tall. and i would think to myself, that's not true. because i know that he must be six-foot five, six-foot aid. but i began to hear allah from people who are saying that he was even smaller than 60. and occasionally you get someo who had made him want to say that he was a real giant. so i have a long part in my footnotes about describing this as aan whose height ranges from 5-foot 9 inches to 6oot 9 inches. but the closest i can estimate is he must be about 6 feet tall. you can look at his own accounts of battle and out he had done often made physically ill,
figured he would be crippling attacks of back pain that some type of people on the floor of his cave. he had low blood pressure. so that he carried a bag of salt that wherever he went, all day long, dipping into the salt. these complaints are similar to what would be the case, if he had addison's disease, which is a chronic illness that john f. kennedy had. as far as his money goes, he was never worth me than $7 million, which was his portion of the share of the family construction business that his father started. and each year they would pay out an allocation. it was sometimes as much as half a million dollars, but rarely more than that, and often less. so he was not a billionaire, and not a giant. and he never had a playboy period in his life. he was always a very somber
pious young man who fasted twice a week in emulation of the prophet. deal, would awaken itself in the middle of night. it seems to be a queasy character that he's been made out to be. i'm going to get into ts a little later, the particulars of him. but i had a professor and graduate school, one of my favorites are used to say a learning comes through meeting. and in great literature you meet people that you lea from. i think one of the things that comes through ts, it doesn't come through many of the other counts, or the number of people that you meet, real-life characters that you end up learning from. there was solari, and bin laden. there john o'neill, very colorful fbi agent, and richard clarke and others. of all of them, tell me your favorite stories, your favorite people that give meet in the book. >> guest: i've talked to over
600 people. and some of them i talked to dozens, maybe hundreds of times. and those were the ones that were most useful to me because i knew they knew. one time i was in sudan, and i was talking to members of sudanese intelligence. and at one point, there was a knock on my door, and one of the sudanesentelligence guys that i befriended brock in a guy. he was kind of a middle sized tabby, had a funny looking round hat on. and i had no idea who he was. but he sat down and i figured he must be somebody if they brought him to me. and he told that i could call him low way. and that is all a new. i started putting him about been wanting to connect legibly realized that he was mohammed
who was bin laden's business manager. and he is also the man whoook the notes on augus11, 1988, when al qaeda was organized. and suddenly there he was in front of the. and it turned out that he is a real prankster. he loves to tell jokes was constantly flapping his own knee d telling stories about bin laden. for instance, when bin laden first broached the subject of creating this all arab foreign legion that they would go fight wars anywhere he wanted to take them. and he said how are you going to get the there, air france? and he was teasing bin laden all this time. it goes to your point that you wouldn't understand these personalities without actual encountering a getting a sense, if i can underand the people that are round of bin laden. i didn't get to bin laden, but i can see the universe that he
inhabits. and by reading their reactions, their stories, their memories, i can kind of more deeply understand the personality. >> host: someone might be offended i think bthe personalization of these figures who a demonic in their behaviors. >> guest: yes. >> host: but if you don't understand you can't deal with them. and change the reality that created em and that created the world where living in. and so you take us, for example, through the life of also mari in a way tha is quite compelling. he almost becomes understandable as a figure, difficult to say even, and controversial to say. but nevertheless walking through his life you see how he became the man he became.
did you ever figure there might be a pri to pay for doing that? >> guest: i know that sometimes people are upset by seeing them as three-dimensional human terms. but these were decisions that were made by individuals. rtainly there were historic trends that were probably steering into conflict. but it didn't have to turn out exactly the way to. we didn't need to have al qaeda. it wouldn't have happened if it were not for them coming together as a vectkr of those two forces. without them, terrorism wld be a completely different state of affairs. and if you don't understand individuals, you don't understand why they took the actions that they did. that's going to be very fficult to undo the damage that they have already done. >> host: you know, one of the americans thaemerges larger-than-life in the book f you is john r. neill. and i was struck by the fact that on the one hand you se
fascinated by him. on the other hand you are aost repulsed by, not just by his behavior, but you have real questions about him, his debt, his lifestyle. whether he was a security risk or not. but still he emees an extraordinary character for you. tell me about him. >> guest: well, john o'neill wanted to be an fbi agent since he was a child. there was a tv show called the fbi. you might remember, and the agent was kind of dapper and that is the same rolehat o'neal played. he was a very dressy for an fbi agent, head double breasted suits and handkerchief in his pocket and expensive brand name clothes. he got a job at the fbi headquartershen he was 14 as a tour guide, and he became a
fingerprint clerk. and eventually worked his way up to becoming head of the counterterrorism efforts in new york and the new york bureau. he was one of the very first to realize that bin laden and al qaeda formed a real threat to america. and he was saying this in 1996 and 1997. he was saying it publicly. even though the director of the fbi, louis freeh, was four years afr that reassuring the white house that al qaeda posed no threat to the homeland. o'neil aggravated a lot of people, and many of them were his superiors. and often got tired of him beating the al qaeda drum. unfortunately, one of them leaked some information to "the new york tim" about the fact that o'neil had ten some
classified information outside of the bureau offes, which was to. he was going to an fbi retirement conferene. so heas forced to quit the bureau. and he took a job as the head of security athe world trade center. now, a lot of people tell me, you know, how ironic, you know, that our chief bin laden hunter didn't get bin laden. bin laden got him. but i don't see it that way and i don't think o'neil would have either. people told him, you know, john, you know, they already struc the world trade center in 1993. so you're going tbe safe and appears they will not go back. he said, no, they will stop until they broht those towers down. he was saying that constantly. so in a way he was putting himself in harm's way. i thin you know, it was more of a feeling of destiny with him. >> host: many of the americans fbi, cia, white house individuals that come through in
your story are not quite as dapper, but driven. they are people who broke china when they walked in the china shop, and were sort of impelled forward by this sense of the danger we faced. richard clarke is another one of them. he straddles two admistration and certain became a maj part of the story during the 9/11 commission. talk to me about richard clarke. >> guest: well, yeah, clarke and o'neill re soul bthers. they really saw each other as being having the sam kind of drive, the same kind of obsesqiveness, the same intolerance of bureaucratic resistance. they wanted to get things done. and consequently they also had in, the fact that they had a lot enemies.
it was clark who spotted o'neil and ben to promote him actually offered him his own job as the countertarrorism czar in the white house. it could welhave been that that was the prompting factors that caused someone in fbi hierarchy to torpedo o'neil, that they wod never want to report him in the white house. it would have bn an intolerable to them. it was hard enough being his boss. o'neil was irascible and tumultuous. he had at least three women who had thought they were going to marry him, that he proposed to. and yet he was married, in fact, th he didn't disclose to me people. he had to go children. of course, his funeral was a
catastrophe of coincidence that he had been eping at bay for all of his adult life. >> host: they all talk to you. >> guest: guess, they did. i had good acces to -- it's not a mystery that people talk to reporters. it's just a matter, because almost everybody wants to have their story shared. you know, but there has to be a level of trust that develops between a reporter and his subject. >> host: i want to talk to you about sources, because in a story this complicated, and the pages of your interview sources in the back are multiple. how do you shift through the spinners, the lf servers, those with an axe to grind, bin laden's children who want to
sort of say their father's reputation versus the brother o the warwick who may want to set the record -- i mean, how do you sort through all that and is there a point, you do have a footnote at the end, a note at the end aboutt but i would like you to talk about because i think people who register and coare it with others that they have read will want to know how did you get this and others didn't? is one source in a? did ey have to be corroborated by other sources? were the times when you got a source but the story was so compelling that you went with it anyway even though it wasn't corroborated? how do you deal with the multip questio that must come to mind when you're hearing the storthe first time? tranthirty there is only instances where i ran into these questions. take into account your talking to, say, member of al jihad who is one of the terrorist groups and he tells me one thing. scotland yard tells me something
else. well, i there any third source, is there any printed matter, you know, what is the reputation of this guy? you know, you have to constantly check erybody against everybody else. and to some extent it is an art, and it is intuition. and what is possible, you know, if you hear something that strikes you as being unlikely, it could be a great nugget, you know. something you are dying to publish, but if it stands out and is out of character, i guess that would be one of the things that i always look at. if it sounds wrong. if i bite on it and it doesn't taste right to me, then i keep working until i assert that it is really true. fortunately, it has been such a long time on my book that a lot
of duments have come up so there were some other tngs i could check against. you know, after november, december 2001, american and coalition forces picked up thousands of pages of internal al qae member in the antimilitary manualsnd letters to each other. and that was really valuable because it wontemporary evidence. and then there is court testimony. there have been number of al qaeda memoirs that have been published in arabic. and of those are extremely useful because once again, they have a lot of readers and you can check other, you know, with others, did this ally happen. if you get a story, for instance, about theoung man that saved bin laden's life in the battle of jalalabad. >> host: little guy. >> guest: little guy.
it turns ut it was a great story. i had heard about a. i never do that there had been someone who changed the course of history like that, and i heard about it from a couple of different sources. and then i finally discovered that jumble who is bin laden's brother-in-law and one of my great sources in saudi arabia have been a high school teacher. so i've been able to find out all about this young man. so it sometimes you hear something, you think there's a story there. i want to know more. another example of jalalabad. there was a rumor i heard from a really good source that bin laden sas one of the leaders who had gone in there and there was a garrison of afghanovernment troops there and they, thehad captured some of the troops stationed outside the airport. and that bin laden had taken the
prisoners, cut them up into pieces and put them into box and sent them in to the garrison town saying this is what happens to infidels. that that is a good story. i wanted that fact that is example of something i want to print that i got it from two very good sources. but they weren't there, so i talked to guys who had been in the battle of jalabad. and i talked to reporters who had covered it. and i realized that it was just a great rumor. i had actually written them but i had taken it out. >> host: while we are talking about this, in a sense, i don't know whether the metaphor is looking through a glass or watching an unfolding story. i mean, it happened. in the recent past. but we are learnin new pieces of the story every day. this week's new yorker, you begin telling the story of some
>> and i began to study him, did i reali that there had been an entire other contingent in afghanistan who had not really formally affiliated with bin laden and al qaeda at the time. but that was the as you say it was a piece of the puzzle that, you know, hadn't been visible, at least to me, until the iraq war. >> i want to just quote it's a r@ther compelling passage about bin laden himself. you say on a plane he had been marginalized he was out of play. but inside the myth he spun about himself he was becoming a representative of all persecuted and humiliated muslims. it powerfullymbodied the
characterized the modern muslim world. in his own miserable exile, his loss entitled them to speak for their, the remedy he proposed was to declare war on the united states. the reason i wanted to quote it is not only state of mind, but the myth that he rather artfully created about himself. part of what we're dealing with here i sort of undoing nonly the demonization that we've cread but a myth he created, and he rather artfuy created for that world, and for our world 37 penetrating that myth is i think what happens in the book. >> yeah. thank you. as a spin myselfer, as a myth maker, as a legend, i am y. >> that's what he's saying. >> he's a gene yows in that
gard. so that's the way hes seen. when he got back to saudi arabia, he managed to spin this amazing legend of the arab avenue -- afghans in reality, an obstruction in the war of the afghan people against the soviet invaders. they were not only, you know, poor warriors, they actuallyot in the way on several occasions that afghan told them to shut their operation down. >> it was a game, and they couldn't shoot straight. >> exactly. and he proved to b a very
ineffective commander. he gets back to saudi arabia, and he has cloaked himself in the heros gar garments. headecom the first celebry. th didn't know what to do with him. theytood in the region between the royal family and everybody else. he was a, someone to be conjured with. he's not only rich in famous and he had a sma army at his command. there's just never been anybody like him in saudi air rare -- arabia and the legend he had gave him standingith saudis and other arabs in this region. he didn't reallyarn it, but he took upon himself. >> we're going to come back.
in this section i would to you talk about some of the comparisons. they provide a different portrait. not just of bin laden, but the entire movement. for example, there's barely a mention of the role of zwatry, and the jihad movement isn't even in the book. they factor heavily into shaping his thinking about about jihad itself against america. something he didn't initially think of. how did they miss that? or did they miss it? why isn't it in their story and figures so heavily into yours? was he the character you say he is? >> i don't know why they didn't address the egyptian influence. because al qaeda has been bin laden at the head, but it's an egypti organization, largely,
it was swalhary playing theole of colonel parker managing elvis. he staed this rich, charismatic saudi. i can use him. his own organization was chronically broke. he himself was noncharismatic. really kind of a terrible leer. he was alway steering hiswn organizaon al-jihad, they were alwa rounding him up. he saw bin laden, and he had the traine and skilled technical people around him who could put bin laden's vision into practice. he had the egyptian army officers, the police officers, the tech any cats. he himself was a surgeon. he surrounded bin laden with his men.
although it was not only bi laden and al qaeda, it was swary who created the organization. >> in their story tling, bin laden is a decisive character who governors and holds rather ghtly to decision making. in yours,e's not that decisive. and in fact, swarhary plays a bigger role. around the targets to be hit and who were to be the personalities involv, they will say that when they -- whehey got back in touch with bin laden and said such and such can't fly, he's a risk, take him out. he insisd, no, he stays wit the team. does that make sense to you? that he was that decisive of a character. despite the fact that others in the leadership didn't want the
attacks to go forward or is zwarhary the character? >> bin laden is a visionary more than a leader in many respects. al qaeda is his vision. he had the vision to take these -- many of them, this nationalist groups and put them der an umbrella. zwarhary is the one w directed it. but there were times these two guys game into conflict. for instance in 1994 when zwarhary blew up the egyptian embassy. bin laden was apposed to that. a lot of his alaeda guys were there having sanctuary. and the pakista were furious. bin laden had to fly to and from khartoum up to islamabad for all
of the guys to go back to sudan. these re real terrorists. al qaeda hadn't become a rrorist organization. and hoover, their allegiance was to zwrahary not to bin laden. you can sigh sometimes zwrarhary led him into deeper water. >> we're talking about the gang that couldn't shoot straight. the stories you tell are fascinating. they could be almost humorous if they weren't so -- for boating in terms of what ultimat becomes. they give a different picture. they give a picture, in fact, of a continuous growth almost undisrupted movingoward the
ultimate act withoutailure. and what i'm looking at here from your telling of it in the afghan situation is tt while there may have been other afghanic who did play a role, these guy in your telling of the story, actually gotten away. they ran like cowards. in other cases, kind of created events that they had to be rescued from. it was a disaster. i'm having trouble sorting it out. which is the bin laden group? and then he gets out aer a disaster and beginning broadcasting that he was the one who. and so it was screw ups and spin. >> yeah. >> is that the story you get? >> it's an interesng way of putting it. spin, though, is essential. you know, bin laden, we often
take credit for things he really doesn't deserve. >> black hk down. >> exactly. that's a classic example he's never taken credit, for instance, for the embassy bombings. although it's very clear that he authorized them. and he has taken credit for 9/11. so he's not reliable. even though he likes to say everybody knows i speak the truth. yocan't trust him at all, because he's c restaurantly spinning. he knew, that for instance, the embassy bombings for a disaster for al qaeda. start off with the fact that you kill all of these people in kenya. hundreds of dead black africans. and then in assistance knee ya, tey are all muslims who are killed. unfortunately, our response was
to send half a billion worth of missiles into the twof the poorest countries in the world, miss bin laden, kill a night watchman that had nothing to do with al qaeda. it just elevated him. he was the first to recognize the opportunity. that near i am, i am in important enough and i have the karma to escape the wrath of the mighty uted states. so that months after the bombing, there were kids in the street of nairobi wearing bin laden t-shirts. >> in sudan, they say he enlisted them in the fight agait christians in the south. they report no tension between him and bin laden. you paint a very different
picture of him finding his ideology repulsive. not quite theory. but not a good muslim in what he was willing to tolerate, and he had no patient at all for the civil war in sudan. which way do i go? >> well, i've spent a lot of time wit the father, and also hah san, who was the s, he was the id owe log. he was the best friend. and he bought horses for him. and they spent a great dl time together. and i was able to see him during one of his brief periods out of jail. so i was fortunate to have arrived in the sudan the first time i visited there when he was available to talk. and i also talked to a number of members of torabi's government
and also saudi intelligence which monitored bin laden and how he was, who he was connected with in khartoum. so i spent a lot of time in khartoum. it was really the turning buoyant in al chi da's history. it was the moment when, you know, when he was in sudan, he hadn't really committed any actions. he may have sent some people, he certainly did sent some people to somalia to train the war lords and theeople. whether nay have anything to do with black hawk down is still up in the air. but we don't know that. he essentially hadn't killed any americans or anything that we know of. at the same time, he was invested in all these businesses in khaoum. he was probably the largest land owner in sudan. he would go around the streets with sun flowers, which
apparent were really big. because he said he should be in the guiness book of world records. he was on the fence. and could he have been per waited not to have gone into terror? i don't know. but i think the u.s. administration at the time made a critical error. they went to the sudanese authorities and they said we want him out of there. you know? they pegged him as a finance here of terrorist movements. and he probably was. t the sudanese said here's he understand control. he has something to protect. if you make him leave he'll g to afghan.
or we'll give him to you. and the u. authorities said, we don't want him. now at the time, we had no indictment on bin laden. what wer we going to do? we just wanted it disrupt his plans. they agreed. they expled him from the country. on the way out, they picked his poets. the business manager that i spoke of said ty left the country, he probably had about $50,000. but the head of the intelligence man that held the al qaeda file in khartoum said he left here with nothing. and when he got to khartm -- afghan, he really was, he and his whole movement they were broke. and he held the u.s. responsible, as we were. >> here's the most difficult part of the story for me to understand. mid 1996, he's flat busted broke.
his movement is dwindled down to a handful. as far as trained terrorists go, they are the leftovers of a movement that fought in afghanistan but not a whole lot else. he gets to afghanistan with a reputation for being a financier and a construction mogul of some sorts in part based on reality, especially on the fun side. that's mid 1996. >> uh-huh. >> a year and aalf later, he's running a $30-million a year training operation, and fueling terrorists to hot spots everywhere. what happened in that year half? what in effect resurrected this movement that was on the skids at thapoint? >> i don't -- to start with, i
don't think it was a $30 million operation. i think that's an estimate tt is probably wildly exaggerated. >> thas the 9/11 concern >> i just don't see that. bill -- bin laden, when he came ba, there were camps the intelligence agency convinced al qaeda to convince the taliban to return those to al qaeda. and they used those camps to train pakistani fighters who were going to fight in kazmere. n laden had keep corrections. but the testimonyf his bodyguard and other people that, you know, were in the al qaeda community is that for a long period of time in the '96, '97, '98 era, they were really,
really poor. they were living and drinking well water with larva in it. now after the embassy bombings which took place in august of '98 was a low-budget operation. it was self-financed. the cell in nairobi operated a fishing boat, and they tried to make their own money. they had no real money at all. noafter the, what we call operation infinite reach, it was the missile attack that failed. a lot of moneyegan t flow to hi. even more unfortunate, there's a report i ran across that there were a number of those missiles that didn't explode. and al qaeda found some of them and sold them to russia for $10
milln -- >> russia or china? >> china. you're correct. >> i read the book. >> thankou. some of them landed on pakistani soil and they used them to reverse engineer a pakistani cruise missile. >> one personal story that comes through in the/11 commission record. you did not touch on when we talk about the fascination with people and how you explore them. and that's one guy that i wonder if you knew about and if you did why you choice not to write about him. and it's one of the 19. that's the jada. it seems to be the only one who had a lover and goes back and forth visiting with her. she comes and spends time with her in florida. he calls her on the airplane. they were secretly married. i was very interested in him. what's up with that?
that breaks the mold here. that's a weird story. >>im, i decided consciously that i wasn't going to really write about the hi jackers. for one thing, i didn't want to overpop late the book. but at some level, i wasn't interested in this. especially, i spent time and looked into, ipent some time in cairo talking to people around ota and so on. but i wasn't drown to them as a writer. and i didn't think if i wasn't drawn to them that i could convince the reader. >> on the issue of what happened? we talk about the gang that couldn't shoot straight. there was some real screw ups on our side. i want to talk to you about that. as you're reading this story you see the pieces that you didn't know where there before. you findut that intelligence
agencies knew the piece, and you seem incensed by some of tha one of the pieces you don't talk about and i want to ask you your opinion, the blind shake who's responsible for organizationing the first bombing of the world trade center in the '90s. how did he get a vis visa? we knew he was a terrorist. he knew he had been involved in theiolent activity in egypt. he had been imprisoned in egypt. how did he get a visa to ce here? >> well, he was a given a visa that was from the cia in khartoum and i understand -- i heard that the y that gave it to him got fired. but i would hopeo. >> can you say duh? >> but it was astonishing. he was in america, invited in on a special visa that allows the
special privildges. and attacking america all the time -- all over america as our guest. >> wl, at one point you get pretty in sense with the cia. thebstruction of justice for come of the not sharing. talk about that a little bit. and while we're on it, having literally wirapped conversation, but not sharing the content when in fact the content would have made it clear that some of the people who were getting visas into the country were up to no good. >> well, il start by talking about ali sufan who was a 29-year-old agent in new york. he was at the time of the co-bombing october of 2000, one of eight fbi agents in the country who spoke arabic, the only one in new york.
o'neil recognized, you know, this young agent as bng talented and he had the skillset that was required to become the case agent for the bombing. so o'neil and sufan and other fbi investigators go to yemen. while they are there they begin toncovereads to certain al qaeda personalities. two evidence that there had been a meeting in southeast asia as it hapns. earlier that year in january 2000. 3 times o'neil and sufan through the director of the fbi's office, formally requestg information about these personalities and about this meeting. each of those three occasions the cia refused to respond. it wasn't like they weren't
aware of it. it was a very formal inquiry. although the cia knew about that meing. in fact, they had surveil it. they knew that two members -- two al qaeda members of that meeting flew from singapore top los angeles in january 200020 monthsefore 91. now let's leave aside the catastrophe of 9/11 for a moment. here is the fbi investigating the death of 17 american sailors. and the cia refuses to respond to their request for information that would bringustice, would expose to whk did it? how itas orgized. because a meeting in malaysia was about the cold bombing. it was about about the 9/11
hijacking who happened to be the one time at the conspirators for the operations were together. so the cia refuses to help in investigating the deaths of these sailors. now another piece of it is this:ding the embassy bombings investigation in 1998, the fbi threw some brilliant investigation uncovered the fact that one of the bombers had gone -- after the explosion, to a pay phone and placed a call to a telephone number in yemen. the man who lived there was a man named ahmed. he was close to al qaeda. as it happened, bin laden called that same number from the satellite phone shortly afterwards. the fbi realized that this was
an al qaeda switchboard. and through tracking the telephone calls that were made to and from and then from those numbers that are called elsewhere, they were able to draw a map of the international reach of al qaeda. they could see, by calling here to hamberg and so on, they could see where al qaeda was. it happens that one of the two men that flew in january of 2000 from there to san diego was the son--law of the man who owned that pne. his daughter was pregnant. and he called her eight times. now thesa of course was recording these calls. they were monitoring who was calling who. they didt give this information to the